31 March 2012

A Few Don't's

Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling five balls in the air.  You name them Work, Family, Health, Friends and Spirit, and you are keeping all of them in the air.  You will soon understand that Work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back.  But the other four balls--Family, Health, Friends and Spirit--are made of glass.  If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life.


1. Don't undermine your worth by comparing yourself with others. It is because we are different that each of us is special.

2. Don't set your goals by what others deem important. Only you know what is best for you.

3. Don't take for granted the things closest to your heart. Cling to them as you would your life, for without them, life is meaningless.

4. Don't let your life slip through your fingers by living in the past or for the future. By living your life one day at a time, you live all the days of your life.

5. Don't give up when you still have something to give. Nothing is really over until the moment you stop trying.

6. Don't be afraid to admit that you are less than perfect. It is the fragile thread that binds us each together.

7.  Don't be afraid to encounter risks. it is by taking chances that we learn how to be brave.

8.  Don't shut love out of your life by saying it's impossible to find. The quickest way to receive love is to give; the fastest way to lose love is to hold it too tightly; and the best way to keep love is to give it wings.

9.  Don't run through life so fast that you forget not only where you've been, but also where you are going.

10.  Don't forget that a person' s greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated.

11.  Don't be afraid to learn. Knowledge is weightless, a treasure you can always carry easily.

12.  Don't use time or words carelessly. Neither can be retrieved. Life is not a race , but a journey to be savoured each step of the way.

30 March 2012

Edmund Pollard

Edmund Pollard
Edgar Lee Masters

I would I had thrust my hands of flesh
Into the disk-flowers bee-infested,
Into the mirror-like core of fire
Of the light of life, the sun of delight.
For what are anthers worth or petals
Or halo-rays? Mockeries, shadows
Of the heart of the flower, the central flame!
All is yours, young passer-by;
Enter the banquet room with the thought;
Don't sidle in as if you were doubtful
Whether you're welcome--the feast is yours!
Nor take but a little, refusing more
With a bashful "Thank you," when you're hungry.
Is your soul alive? Then let it feed!
Leave no balconies where you can climb;
Nor milk-white bosoms where you can rest;
Nor golden heads with pillows to share;
Nor wine cups while the wine is sweet;
Nor ecstasies of body or soul,
You will die, no doubt, but die while living
In depths of azure, rapt and mated,
Kissing the queen-bee, Life!

from Spoon River Anthology

29 March 2012

Bumps in the Road

Sometimes on this road of life, we face some pretty rough traveling.  There are times when the road is full of potholes or ice heaves or even small fault lines, and we have to pay very close attention to where we’re going and what we’re doing so that we don’t hit the potholes and do some damage to our vehicles–or in other words, ourselves.

What makes the difference in the trip, though, is how we respond to the potholes.  We can sit in our cars and complain about them because they make the trip more difficult, or we can be grateful for them because they force us to be more aware of our surroundings.  And let’s face it–potholes or not, at least there’s a road that will take us where we want to get to, isn’t there?

I know many people who would do nothing but complain about the potholes, threatening to write letters to congresspersons and Department of Transportation people.  All they seem to be able to focus on are the obstacles, even when they’re successful in avoiding them.

I know other people who just look at a pothole as a normal part of life.  “At least I didn’t hit it,” they say, and immediately forget that the thing even exists, focused on the next part of their journey.

The former people tend to be unhappy and miserable, always looking for the next thing to be upset about.

The latter tend to be pretty content with their lives and the way that they’re living them.

It’s a pretty easy call for me to say which group I’d rather be a part of.  So I work really hard at minimizing my complaining, looking for the positive in the situations of my life instead of the negative things.  So far, I find that this strategy pays excellent dividends, for I find myself feeling at peace, calm, and aware of my surroundings.  It’s a much more pleasant way to go through life, and I really would like to go through life in as pleasant a way as possible.  I know that bad times will come, but when my choice is involved, then I’d much rather see potholes as simple parts of life rather than as major annoyances that make me lose my peace of mind.

28 March 2012

Words of Wisdom from Arthur Gordon (and Robert Louis Stevenson and a French Purser)

A few years ago, on a liner bound for Europe, I was browsing in the library when I came across a puzzling line by Robert Louis Stevenson:  "Extreme busyness, whether at school, kirk, or market, is a symptom of deficient vitality."  Surely, I thought, "deficient" is a mistake--he must have meant "abundant."  But R.L.S. went merrily on, "It is no good speaking to such folk:  they can not be idle, their nature is not generous enough."

Was it possible that a bustling display of energy might only be a camouflage for a spiritual vacuum?  The thought so impressed me that I mentioned it next day to the French purser, at whose table I was sitting.  He nodded his agreement.  "Stevenson is right," he said.  "Indeed, if you will pardon my saying so, the idea applies particularly to you Americans.  A lot of your countrymen keep so busy getting things done that they reach the end of their lives without ever having lived at all."


27 March 2012

Ten Years from Now?

I often use how I think I may feel in ten years as a guide.  If I have an opportunity to do something new and different, will I regret not having done it?  Will I regret having played it safe and not having taken a risk?  And on my deathbed (assuming there will be such a thing) will I regret not having done the new and exciting and different and having settled for the safe and convenient?

A few years ago I weighed thirty pounds more than I do now.  When I thought of how I would feel twenty years later, I realized that I would be facing many more health problems due to being overweight than I would if I weren't overweight, so I lost the extra pounds.  It took about eighteen months to get where I wanted, but now that I'm there, I stay there.  I would have been very disappointed in the future if I hadn't lost that weight, and now I won't face that disappointment in the years to come.

We had a friend in New England who wants desperately to move to a warmer climate, but who isn't willing to take the chance. . . . yet.  We hope she will someday.  But because she won't take that chance, she'll never know what she's missing by not living out her dream, by playing it safe in her comfortable job in her comfortable home.  I have nothing against comfort, but it sure can hold us back and hold us down when we fear losing it.

I don't want to face disappointment later in life because I was afraid to take a chance and sail into uncharted waters.  As I sail into those waters, I can add much more learning to my life, many more experiences that wouldn't be there otherwise.  And those experiences can help me grow into a new person, one who is able to deal effectively with many more situations than the old one.

26 March 2012

What's Really There

A man named Stephen C. Paul once said, "Learn to see what is in front of you rather than what you learned is there."  These words get me to thinking about just how much our beliefs interfere with our realities.  If I see a guy who's dressed a certain way or acting a certain way, then my belief system kicks in and it's very easy for me to judge this person.  But who is this guy really, and why is he acting this way?  If my beliefs don't allow me to find out the answer to these questions, then what purpose are my beliefs really serving?

When I see a tree, I recognize it as a tree because I've developed a belief system about how trees should be.  The same goes with cats and cacti and worms and birds and pretty much everything else that's in front of me.  I name it, I categorize it, and I give it a nice little name that conforms to what I believe it is.  "That's a dog," I say, and that's that.

But does my belief system keep me from seeing more deeply?  Does it keep me from trying to learn more about something that's in front of me just because I'm comfortable enough with what I believe it to be?  What's really in front of me on the molecular level?  On the atomic level?  On the spiritual level?  People from one culture might see the dog as a holy sign, while people from other cultures may see lunch.  There are so many different ways of seeing anything that it seems a shame that we limit ourselves from seeing the beauty and holiness and amazing qualities of almost everything just because once we define it within our beliefs, we stop seeing past the surface.  And past the surface is where things just start getting good!

So is that really just a coffee cup?

Our beliefs are so powerful that they color our entire world.
We literally see what we believe, but we can--and most of us
do--fail to take responsibility for what we see, especially what we see within.

Hugh Prather

24 March 2012

Someone Else's Words

Someone Else's Words

Today feels like a very good day to let someone else speak, so here are some special words from two of my favorite people:

Why do we protect children from life?  It's no wonder that we become afraid to live.  We're not told what life really is. We're not told that life is joy and wonder and magic and even rapture, if you can get involved enough.  We're not told that life is also pain, misery, despair, unhappiness, and tears.  I don't know about you, but I don't want to miss any of it.  I want to embrace life, and I want to find out what it's all about.  I wouldn't want to go through life without knowing what it is to cry.

Leo Buscaglia

Life is short.  Each year passes more quickly than the previous one.  It’s easy to deny yourself many of life’s simple pleasures because you want to be practical.  Forget about practical and decide instead to become a joy collector.  Always be on the lookout for gifts without ribbons.  God is strewing them across your path right now.  His gifts come tagged with a note:  “Life can be wonderful.  Do your best not to miss it!”  Enjoy what it is before it isn’t anymore. . . . Dare to slip on a pair of bunny slippers once in a while!  Surprise yourself!  Enjoy the little things because one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.

Barbara Johnson

23 March 2012


The thing wrong with the world is that people don't have instructions.  We were told almost three hundred years ago that people would be coming to us and asking for our instructions.  We were told that back in the 1700s that there'd be a day when white people would be coming to us, asking for instructions and finding out the way we think.  Indians joke that when they see a white man coming, they see a question mark walking down the road.  That's not one of the things I laugh about.  I feel for the ones who feel lost.  I tell them to use common sense and listen.  The Creator has the answers.  A lot of people are searching for what they don't have.  They're searching for the wisdom of a whole way of life.
So they come to the Indians.  That's why I say it's in the prophecies that they are coming to us, because they are wanting to learn our way of life, what it is all about.  It's true, I get a lot of people, even college people, who want to know how to be a "Human Being."  We don't laugh at the white people, Most of the Indians can't laugh because even they haven't been brought up in the Longhouse like I have.  They've got to learn too.  Even some of the chiefs have had to learn and I don't know how much they have learned.    ~
Leon Shenandoah

22 March 2012

I Wish You Peace

I wish you peace--peace of mind and peace of heart that will allow you to experience life with an equanimity that others simply do not know, an inner peace that others will see and feel, and that will help them to find their own peace on their own terms.

I wish you the ability to access your peacefulness even in the most trying of situations, so that the trials of life will not overwhelm you with their complexities and complications.  May the peace within you always be a source of comfort and security, always there to help you to maintain a healthy perspective on life.  Many people go through their entire lives never looking for peace, and thus never feeling it inside of themselves, but I hope that you're able not only to search it out, but to find it and allow it to be a part of yourself.

I wish you the "peace that passes all understanding," the peace that comes from a faith in something much greater than ourselves, a God who is loving and kind and gentle.  Millions of people have come across this peace, from the monks who spend day after day in prayer to the people who have passed through the program of Alcoholics Anonymous in order to clean up their lives and stop allowing their lack of inner peace to destroy them.  A lack of peace in our lives can be one of the most destructive forces in the world, and I hope that you never feel the loss of peace in your life.

21 March 2012

What Will I Take?

I’m fascinated by the concept of abundance.  It amazes me to think of just how much abundance is available right here, right now, on this great planet that we call home.  And it distresses me to witness, time and again, human beings arguing for lack, arguing that they can’t tap into that abundance, that they’re somehow doomed to go with less their whole lives long.  Life’s abundance is here for everyone, no matter who they are or what their skin color, but for some reason we prefer to think that we’re to be doomed to suffer life’s limitations, that the abundance is for other people.  And as long as we think that, of course, guess what we’re setting ourselves up to receive?

I’m not as wealthy as many other people on this planet; in fact, no one really would call me wealthy at all.  But one thing is for sure–I’ve never had to do without many things.  I’ve always been blessed with enough food to eat and clothes to wear.  I’ve always had a roof over my head, a car to drive me places, friends to talk to, even computers to work on.  I’ve had books to read and stereos to listen to my music on.  My life has been very abundant, even if I don’t have a yacht to spend my weekends on or a million dollars in the bank.

But I see many people refuse to take an extra college course that might help them to get a raise or to find work that pays better.  I’ve seen many people hoard their money and refuse to take vacations in beautiful places that could re-energize and re-invigorate them.  I know a lot of people who spend their money on frivolous things that they don’t need at all, only to be “unable” to do things that could help them to advance in their lives.  And how many people do we all know who refuse to take risks, thus dooming themselves to continue on in jobs or in lives that are unfulfilling and unrewarding?

This life offers all of us many beautiful things and experiences.  Abundance is all around us, but we have to reach out and take it, live it, and feel it.  I don’t want to reach the day I die and regret not having experienced as much of what this life has to offer as I can, so I have to do my best today to recognize what options are there before me and do my best to make them a part of my life, a part of my experience, a part of who I am.  It’s up to me.

The abundance of God is like a mighty ocean, so vast you cannot possibly exhaust it or cause a shortage for others.  You can go to this inexhaustible ocean with only a small cup and bring away only that small cup of bounty and blessing.  Or, if you have faith enough, you can take a bucket and bring away a bucketful.  It makes no difference to the ocean.  Nor does it matter how often you go.  Abundance is always there.

Henry T. Hamblin

20 March 2012

Words of Wisdom from Brian Tracy

It is inevitable that you will experience a continuous series of large and small disappointments and setbacks in your life. That is the nature of the game. They are unavoidable. Some things work out, and some things don't. Sometimes you win; sometimes you lose. In spite of your best efforts, unexpected and unpredictable events will derail your best-laid plans. This endless process of change and setbacks begins when you first enter the workforce, and it continues for the rest of your career. Problems and changes in your work are like the rain — they just happen. But if you set clear goals for your work, as well as for your family life and for your personal development, then no matter what happens, you can concentrate your thinking on your goals and take a long-term view of your current circumstances. You can, in effect, rise above the challenges of the moment and keep your eyes on the guiding stars of your life and your most cherished dreams.

from today's issue of our e-zine at http://livinglifefully.com.zine.htm

19 March 2012

Today I Can. . . .

Encourage someone who needs encouragement–or even someone who doesn’t seem to need it.

Make a promise to a young person. . . and keep it!

Not criticize anyone for anything, but instead look for the sense that I may not understand in things that other people do.

Make myself do without something that I may want.

Make it the first day of my new diet, or exercise program, or reading program; or I can register for a course in college or at a community center.

Buy a copy of a song I’ve wanted to hear for ages, and sing along with it.

Start a book that I’ve been meaning to start reading. . . or writing.

Give thanks for the day and all the beauty and wonder that it contains–and try to see all of each that I can.

Recognize that everyone is going through their own trials and realize that I can have no idea at all of what they’re feeling–what kind of pain they’re in, or what kind of sorrow they feel.  And I can feel and show compassion for them all.

Listen to someone else without putting my two cents’ worth in.

Enjoy the day for the truly precious gift that it is, and enjoy the other people in my world for the truly precious gifts that they are, whether I see their gifts or not!

18 March 2012



'Tis better to have tried in vain,
  Sincerely striving for a goal,
Than to have lived upon the plain
  An idle and a timid soul.

'Tis better to have fought and spent
  Your courage, missing all applause,
Than to have lived in smug content
  And never ventured for a cause.

For those who try and fail may be
  The founders of a better day;
Though never theirs the victory,
  From them shall others learn the way.

Edgar Guest

16 March 2012

Where I'm Supposed to Be

I’ve always had doubts about what I’m doing.  Whether it’s been working as a teacher, being in the Army, being a student, or doing any of the other jobs that I’ve done, I often start wondering what life would be like if I were doing something else.  I get tempted by jobs that seem easier, or more rewarding, or that pay better.  I think of what it would be like to lose the stress, to be able to work less and earn more, to have a better schedule that fits my personality and my body’s cycles better.

Since I started teaching high school a few years ago–after many years of teaching college–I’ve found myself wondering more often than ever whether I’m in the right place, or doing the right thing.  The number of frustrations in this particular line of work is incredible, from students who aren’t willing to do any work at all to administrative demands to frustrations with curricula, among many other things.

But on the days I start to get frustrated and I start to wonder, I’ve developed a set of habits that I believe help me to see things more clearly in the midst of my frustration.  The first and most important thing that I do on the down days is to remind myself how I feel on the up days.  Not what happens on the up days, not what I’ve done on the up days, but how I feel on those days.  After all, it’s that feeling that’s important, for it’s that feeling that helps to make those days what they are.  Sometimes we get it backwards and think that nice times make us feel good, rather than seeing how our positive feelings contribute to making those times nice.

Secondly, I remind myself that life and God have a plan for me.  I am where I am for a reason–it’s not a mistake or a coincidence.  I’m not working with the wonderful human beings at my school for no reason at all.  I’m there because I have something important to contribute–possibly many things–and because I have something to learn–probably many things.  And where I am must be the best place for all that to happen, or I wouldn’t be there, now would I?

Finally, I remind myself that this, too, must pass.  These feelings will pass, this frustration will pass.  And probably sooner rather than later, as long as I let it.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been on ups and downs, feeling completely at home and feeling completely out of place.  But inside I know that for now, I am where I’m supposed to be, and it’s up to me to recognize that fact, accept it, and appreciate it.  Life and God have some pretty good things in mind for me, and I can find out what they are as long as I’m accepting and willing to allow things to be as they are so that I can add my contribution to the world in which I live, and to the people with whom I’m sharing my life.

14 March 2012

Thoughts on Listening from Bernie Siegel

You can hear your loved ones no matter how poorly your ears work. I know deaf people who are able to hear with their hearts. And I know people with perfect ears who drive their families crazy with their lack of hearing. I know about this firsthand because our children used to get upset when I read the paper and watched television while they were talking to me. They'd say, "Dad, you're not listening." I would repeat all the things they said to prove I was listening, but they told me that being able to repeat their words was not the same thing as hearing them. Hearing means listening attentively to what they had to say. Today when one of the children wants to talk to me, I put down the paper, turn off the television and listen to what he has to tell me. . . . I also have learned how to say "m-m-m" in many ways and to stop trying to solve everyone's problems. They thank me for listening. It helps them to clarify and solve their problems.      

-Bernie Siegel

13 March 2012

Sometimes It's Hard

My wife and I just watched the film Lean on Me for the first time a couple of days ago, and I found it to be an extremely moving portrayal of many people in a system who were caught in very difficult circumstances--and who had to make some very difficult decisions in order to bring about change where change most definitely was needed.  And while I wasn't completely comfortable with all the methods and decisions that were made, it was very obvious that the extreme situation--a high school that had become ultraviolent with almost no order at all--called for extreme measures.

Sometimes in our lives--rarely, but still sometimes--we may be called to make the hard decisions.  We may be put into situations in which the easy decisions will lead to ineffective, or even harmful, results.  And in those times, it's important that we keep in mind that if a hard decision is called for, we may be the persons who have to make it.  It may be unpopular and it may lead people to dislike us or be suspicious of us, but we still need to try to keep in mind that the right needs to be done, and someone has to do it.  And what are we doing to ourselves if we don't do what's right because we're afraid of what people might say or how they might react?

In the film, we watched a man who had to do some very difficult things.  He alienated others and angered them and even made enemies because he was doing what was right in the best way that he knew how.  Others might have done things differently, but he did things how he did them and he stuck to his convictions.  And in the end, which is what counts the most, he knew that no matter what the outcome he could be satisfied and content because he knew that he had done the best that he knew how, and he hadn't backed down when the pressure on him grew.

In my life, I hope that I always can feel that way--that I've done what's right no matter what, and that I haven't buckled to pressure to avoid doing the right, or even to do something wrong. . . .

The principles you live by create the world you live in;
if you change the principles you live by,
you will change your world.

Blaine Lee 

12 March 2012

A Portrait of Peace (author unknown)

There once was a King who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture of peace.  Many artists tried.  The King looked at all the pictures, but there were only two he really liked and he had to choose between them.  One picture was of a calm lake.

The lake was a perfect mirror, for peaceful towering mountains were all around it.  Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds.  All who saw this picture thought it was a perfect picture of peace.

The other picture had mountains, too.  But these were rugged and bare.  Above was an angry sky from which rain fell, and in which lightening played.  Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall.  This did not look peaceful at all.  But when the King looked, he saw behind the waterfall a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock.  In the bush a mother bird had built her nest.  There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on her nest.

The King chose the second picture.

"Because," explained the King, "peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work.  Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart.  That is the real meaning of peace."

Quiet minds cannot be perplexed
or frightened, but go on in fortune
or misfortune at their own
private pace, like a clock
during a thunderstorm.

10 March 2012

What "Sucess" Means to Me

I've seen lots of definitions of success, and the ones that I feel most comfortable with are those that talk about success being a result of doing things for others, of doing things that one really feels called to do, of taking risks and doing the best one can do no matter what the outcome.  As a teacher, I feel a great sense of success when I see a student (or two, even!) "get it," and suddenly realize something very important.  I feel successful when I see a student's writing improve over the course of the year to a point at which the writing is quite good and the student's confidence in his or her writing is very high.

I'm not at all attracted to a type of success that would gain me fame and fortune.  While there are certain advantages to both fame and fortune, I don't feel called in that direction at all.  I feel a calling to work one-on-one with people to help them reach inside and find the talent, the ability, the skills that have been buried for so long.  And when I see that happen, I feel very successful.

The most successful people I've known in life have been those who have followed their callings, their gifts, and have done what their hearts guide them to do.  These people aren't in the news or on the covers of magazines, but they're held dearly in the hearts of people who love them and who appreciate all that they've done for them.  And on the day I day, whether that be tomorrow or forty years from now, I want to look back on my life and feel that I've used my God-given gifts to contribute to the lives of others in ways that have been truly unique to me.

My success doesn't depend upon recognition or reward.  It doesn't depend on financial gain or material wealth.  My success comes as the result of giving all that I can give to people who have need of what I can offer, and doing so without thinking of rewards or recompense.  Because if success is to be the result of giving, then shouldn't that giving be unconditional?

Most people see success as being rich and famous or powerful and influential.  Others see it as being at the top of their profession and standing out from the rest.  The wise see success in a more personal way; they see it as achieving the goals they have set for themselves, and then feeling pride and satisfaction in their accomplishments.  True success is felt in the heart, not measured by money and power.  So be true to yourself and achieve those goals you set.  For success is reaching those goals and feeling proud of what you have accomplished.

Tim Tweedie

09 March 2012

May you always have. . . .

Enough happiness to keep you sweet 
Enough trials to keep you strong 
Enough sorrow to keep you human 
Enough hope to keep you happy 
Enough failure to keep you humble 
Enough success to keep you eager 
Enough friends to give you comfort 
Enough wealth to meet your needs 
Enough enthusiasm to look forward 
Enough faith to banish depression 
Enough determination to make each day better than yesterday. 
Enough love to pass around.
          Author Unknown

08 March 2012


I've learned that if someone says something unkind about me, I must live so that no one will believe it.

I've learned that you can make some one's day  by simply sending them a little note.

I've learned that the greater a person's sense of guilt, the greater his or her need to cast blame on others.

I've learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.

I've learned that hotel mattresses are better on the side away from the phone.

I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things:  a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.

I've learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when they're gone from your life.

I've learned that making a "living" is not the same thing as making a "life."

I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.

I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands.   You need to be able to throw something back.

I've learned that if you pursue happiness, it will elude you.  But if you focus on your family, your friends, the needs of others, your work and doing the very best you can, happiness will find you.

I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.

I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one.

I've learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone.  People love that human touch -- holding hands, a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.

I've learned that I still have a lot to learn.


07 March 2012

Who I Am

It's taken me a very long time to learn how to be who I am.  For the longest time I tried to be the person that I thought everyone else wanted me to be, but surprisingly enough I was pretty much always completely unsuccessful at that endeavor, and often rather pathetically so.  I don't need to go into details, but I finally figured out that I was employing a strategy that was doomed to fail.  So I finally decided to be me, and only me, and authentically me, and I've been enjoying the ride ever since.

Sure, there are the times of weakness when I slip back into trying to be somebody for someone else, and I still fail at that.  But each time that happens, I learn a little bit more deeply about the true value of me--who I am and how I am.  And it's nice to be reminded just how valuable we all are on this planet.

Usually I tried to be something or someone I wasn't because I wanted another person to like me more, perhaps even to need me, but I usually came off as being pretty needy myself (which was true).  Nowadays, though, I know what I like and I know what I don't like; I know what comes naturally to me and I know what doesn't; I know how I want to act and I know how I don't want to act, and I work hard at following the truths of who I am.  And while I'm not completely over wanting other people to like me, at least now I accept that they're going to like me for who I truly am, or I'm not going to worry too much about why they don't.  I'd still prefer for people to like me, of course. . . .

Who are you?  If you found a thousand dollars on the street paperclipped to a business card, would you look up whoever's listed on the card?  If someone makes a dirty joke around you that offends you, do you tell them you're offended?  If your friends are going to do something you don't like to do or that you feel uncomfortable about, will you back out?  These and many more things are signs that you have a good idea of who you are, and that you're willing to accept that and live with it and enjoy the truth and love of yourself, spreading both out into the world with all that you have.

I believe one of our souls' major purposes is to know, love, and express our authentic selves.  To live the life and be the person we were created to be.  However, our true selves only emerge when it's safe to do so.  Self-condemnation, shame, and guilt send your true nature into hiding.  It's only in the safety of gentle curiosity, encouragement, and self-love that your soul can bloom as it was created to do.

05 March 2012

Wise words from Christina Feldman

We may dream of a time when we can lie down beneath the night sky and do nothing but be present in its vastness with total attention.  But our dreams are too often sabotaged by the busyness generated by anxiety.  We seek evidence of our worth through what we produce, become, and surround ourselves with.  Boredom has come to be regarded as one of our greatest enemies and we flee from it by generating endless complexity and busyness.  Boredom may be no more than a surrender of sensitivity, yet, rather than turning our hearts and minds to rediscover that lost sensitivity, we thirst for even more exciting experiences, drama, and intensity. . . When alienated from inner vitality we mistake intensity for wakefulness.

Christina Feldman

04 March 2012

Would You Kindly?

What kinds of kindness did you unleash upon the world today?  Were you polite to someone who was overworked, who could use kindness and politeness to brighten his or her day a bit?  Did you give a little something to someone who could use it?  Did you give someone cuts in line, or allow someone to merge into traffic ahead of you?  Perhaps you paid a sincere compliment, or helped someone out with something they needed help on?

No matter what form your kindness took, it certainly was welcome in this world of ours.  Kindness is a soothing balm, a piece of heaven here on earth.  When we show kindness, we're contributing in a positive way not only to the life or lives of the person or persons to whom we show the kindness, but we're also contributing to the overall positive energy of the world as a whole.  And who knows--perhaps someone witnesses our kind act and decides to show a bit of kindness themselves, causing a ripple effect from one small act of kindness.

Our kindness doesn't need to be earth-shattering.  It doesn't need to affect thousands of people.  Our kindness can be diverting our step so as not to step on a bug, and that act to spare a life is still a positive act in the world.  Kindness, though, is your choice--and most of us choose to be kind only on special occasions or when we see that someone really needs it.  Kindness shouldn't be limited to certain times or places, though--we improve our lives and the lives of others when we show kindness, so why not show it as often as we possibly can?  It doesn't take much effort usually, even though it's a force that truly can change the world for the better when we employ it.

I know that I often lose chances to be kind--leaving the supermarket without saying something nice (other than "Thanks.  Have a nice day!"), driving to work without letting other drivers merge into traffic, not showing interest in someone else's life or job or situations.  Perhaps when I learn to take advantage of those opportunities, my life will improve as I add to the amount of positive energy I share with the world. . . .

We restore the holiness of the world through our loving-
and compassion.  Everyone participates.  It is
a collective task. 
Every act of loving-kindness, no
matter how great or small,
repairs the world.  All
those ever born have shared this collective
work since the beginning of time.

03 March 2012

Thoughts from Patti LaBelle

Look at life through the windshield, not the rearview mirror.

My sister Barbara tried to teach me this lesson more than twenty years ago.  At the time, she was planning her wedding under what I can only describe as bittersweet circumstances.  On the one hand, my sister was about to realize a life-long dream:  at age thirty-eight, she was about to marry the man she had been in love with since they were teenagers.  On the other, she had just been diagnosed with colon cancer. . . .

"What good would it do to be angry, Patsy?" she said gently.  "I can't change the past and I can't control the future.  I can, however, make the most of the present.  Shot and I are together now.  At this moment.  And, if you think about it, this moment is all any of us really has."

The ability to live fully in the moment--in the time and place we are right now--is one of the greatest secrets I know of living joyfully.  Because once you grasp it, freedom is very close.  You stop worrying about the past and stressing out about the future.  Enjoying life--not agonizing about what happened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow--becomes your priority.  Your days become a gift, not a grind.

02 March 2012

What do you see?

What do you see when you look at a tree?  Do you see a thing with leaves, or do you see a complex structure that creates the oxygen that we breathe, a place that many small creatures call home their whole lives long?

What do you see when you look at a child?  Do you see just a kid that can be kind or cool or kind of annoying, or do you see a young human being in his or her formative years, learning how to make his or her place in this world, hopefully learning how to deal with the struggles and trials that eventually will come?

What do you see when you look at the sky, full of clouds and dropping rain?  Do you see the ruined picnic, or do you see the water that provides us all with the means of living this thing we call life?

What do you see when you look at a flower?  Do you see the pretty colors and the nice form, or do you see the provider of pollen that bees turn into honey with which we can nourish ourselves?  Or do you see the aesthetics, the beauty that can cause people to stop in their tracks to gaze in wonder?

What do you see when you look at a road?  Do you see the pavement that scars the land, or do you see the possibility and potential of new destinations, new directions, new voyages?

What do you see when you look?  The choice is yours; the choice is always yours.  I cannot tell you what to see, nor can I tell you how to see.  I hope that when you open your eyes fully the next time that you see truly, that you see fully, and that you see with love and appreciation for the gift of being able to see.